Having worked within the new homes industry for the past seven years I was interested to read News Analysis (DW 21 February).
The article seems to infer that with a bit of clever marketing you can create some housebuilding ‘super brands’. I think this is only half the truth, and the easier one for the housebuilders.
First, I take issue with the quote that there are ‘no brands in the truest sense of the word’ in the housebuilder market. This would lead us to believe that you only have a brand if you go to a design group and commission one.
The truth is that every housebuilder has a brand, but very few do anything about developing or managing them.
The current spate of rebrands is symptomatic of the industry’s failure to come to grips with how it is perceived. It seems to believe that a quick ‘lick of paint’ (excuse the pun) to the identity will solve its problems. Perhaps the article’s suggestion that ‘some good lifestyle shoots’ will help make the difference. I think not.
The crux of the problem is that the industry is structured and motivated by a desire to shift units. It is driven by sales figures and treats its customers as numbers that simply cease to exist the minute they complete on their new home. It also employs a workforce of salespeople who are the key point of interface with customers, but who move from developer to developer as sites open and close.
No wonder there is no differentiation. I challenge anyone to get any in-depth product information out of any of them.
New homes companies have to face the fact that its product delivery is poor. Until they get this fundamental fact sorted out they are always going to be facing a ‘branding mountain’. They will only stop being viewed as cowboys when they stop acting like them.
On the bright side, however, if they do get it right, there is so much potential for brand building.
So what if people only move every seven years, we also know that they only move about ten miles. How many people will ‘experience’ your product during those seven years. Housebuilders create a product that people experience for several hours every day. How many products can claim that?
The buying process provides opportunities for new product and service offerings. And housebuilders knowing where their customers are is surely an advantage.
It’s time housebuilders stopped looking at brands as a series of ads and a logo, stopped finding reasons for not delivering outstanding products and services and opened their eyes to the real opportunities out there. I just hope that when one does, I’m sitting across the table.
Leatherhead KT22 8RA